Foxygen’s “Hang”: Ambitious but Lacking


Brendon Jung

People tend to think that having more of something is always better, but that is not necessarily true in every case. In their newest release, “Hang,” the Foxygen duo of Jonathan Rado and Sam France was overly ambitious in trying to create a unique album by adding as many different styles of music as possible, especially from the 1970s, with a heavy reliance on instrumentals like a 40-piece orchestra.

Again, like their last album “…And Star Power,” Foxygen brought back another old style: this time ‘70s classic rock. Although the main base of all of their songs is already ‘70s-style music, each one of them had different musical styles mixed together. For this album, Foxygen was especially ambitious, in that the 40-piece orchestra did not connect well musically with other instrumentals used in the album.

The first song, “Follow the Leader,” was a decent start. The 40-piece orchestra was first heard in this song, giving it a wider sound overall. Like the rest of the album, the instrumentals played a big part in all of the songs. They changed the style and mood immediately. For some of the songs, I felt that there was more reliance on the instrumentals than the vocals.

The second song, “Avalon,” was more of an old-time tune that, again, relied on the instrumentals. Interestingly, many of the songs in the album were theatrical; songs that you would hear in a Broadway show.

The next song, “Mrs. Adams,” was not up to the level of the songs before. There was a big change in style from lighthearted orchestra to a more heavy rock of the previous songs. The song “America” had the same awkward change in style as well. At times, it was similar to jazz that you would hear in an old bar, or sometimes it would go back to the ‘70s tunes with orchestra instrumentals. Like most of their songs in this album, this one was mostly instrumentals as well.

There was an interesting style going on for “On Lankershim” that had bit of Elton John in it. The song had a carefree and whacky feeling, along with the piano instrumentals. “On Lankershim” was more interesting to listen to, while the next song “Upon a Hill” was very disappointing. The vocals felt more like he was trying to combine his usual vocal style with a theater vocal, which did not meld well. The instrumental changes were very awkward and underwhelming overall.

Following “Upon a Hill,” the song “Trauma” was even more disappointing and tiresome. The repetitive use of the song’s title made it really boring and dull. The last song, “Rise Up,” again, was another mixture of different genres, and it was not good enough to end the album well.

Overall, the album “Hang” was not great, due to the ever-changing style and awkward transitions between the songs. The first three tracks made the album interesting, and then it all went downhill because of weak songs in the middle. Also, the last song certainly did not feel like a good ending. Unlike the title of the song, the album sunk down in quality.

There was this sense that the talented duo was trying to show off their skills by making their songs really complicated, but really their ambition backfired. The album as a whole was promising, but disappointing.